Every once in a while, when reading the Word, an expression or an individual word stands out, and it happened again the other day. It’s a word that I have always understood to mean one thing and yet, behind that meaning is a key element that takes the word to a new level. Let’s look at it as used in a carol that everyone no doubt sang a few weeks ago.
Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the new-born king…
I have always pictured someone “heralding” something as a man walking down the street in the 1700’s crying out the news; making a statement. Well, that’s true but there is something more important about the word “herald.” Look at how it is used from another perspective:
2 Tim 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
The word “preach” is kerusso, which means “to proclaim as a herald.” But what’s important here is that it means to proclaim “without” any reference to the matter being proclaimed. It is the picture of a “herald” standing in the emperor’s name in some public place and conveying a proclamation. Or put another way, a statement from the emperor that leaves no room for discussion or debate. It is being proclaimed and calls for immediate obedience.
That is what the bride of Christ is commanded to do. She is simply to proclaim the mandatory requirement that people may choose to ignore or reject at their own peril. Here is perfect example from Paul as he stood on Mars Hill:
Acts 17:30-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Paul stood as God’s herald, handing down His divine ultimatum to the world He created… and the result?
Acts 17:32-34 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed…
Paul made a statement of fact and left no room for argument. The proclamation had been given to him to deliver and he delivered it and left without discussion. And so had Timothy been given a proclamation to “herald” in Ephesus; to stand and deliver (to preach) the gospel message, both the warning and good news.
Paul Revere was a herald, riding through the towns crying “the British are coming, the British are coming,” a proclamation that left no room for discussion… believe and respond or disbelieve and suffer the consequences. And so is the message of the gospel that we are commanded to preach, to herald. We are not responsible for the response, that is the purview of the Holy Spirit.